Friday, 7 January 2011

Welshman tasked with saving Egypt's oldest pyramid

Newport, Wales-based structural engineer Peter James is a self-made millionaire, and a man accustomed to leaps of faith, yet even he describes his current mission of saving Egypt's oldest stone-built pyramid as "the scariest thing I've ever done in my life."

The Pyramid of Djoser in the Saqqara necropolis is 4,700 years old, but suffered severe damage in a 1992 earthquake.

A former Royal Navy lieutenant-commander who served in the Falklands War, Mr James' involvement with structural engineering began when he took charge of building services for Cardiff council.

His big break came when his company, Cintec, won the contract to repair Windsor Castle following extensive damage caused by the 1993 fire.

Amongst other notable renovation work he has been involved in are the White House, Buckingham Palace, and even the Red Pyramid near Giza.

The first stage of the renovation will involve propping up the damaged ceiling in the central chamber of the pyramid, with self-inflating Waterwall technology; fluid-filled airbags which Mr James first developed to absorb explosions while defusing road-side bombs in Afghanistan.

The more permanent phase of the repairs requires Cintec to thread the latest in thermo-dynamic steel rods diagonally through the steps of the pyramid, in such a way that the six levels will be knitted together without being visible.

Read more: BBC

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